GOTHAM, ILLINOIS—A small, public library in Southern Illinois has added two horse classics to its list of verboten titles, and the names of these universally beloved children’s books may surprise you.

The 19th-century Black Beauty, by Anna Sewell, and the 1948 King of the Wind, by Marguerite Henry, are among the thousands of titles that no longer fit the parameters of the public institution’s new, faith-based curriculum.

“Satan was in that library, I have no doubt,” said Pastor Neil Aiken, who was hired this spring as a special consultant by his parishioner, the library’s director. So far, Pastor Aiken has ordered the removal of more than 3,800 tomes as part of his community-wide, ‘Gotham for God’ initiative.

“We’re expected to believe that horses can develop friendships with one another? That they can understand complex concepts like suffering and courage? That they have intelligence of any kind, let alone the ability to communicate with humans on some higher plane?

“There’s only one higher plane I’m interested in, and that’s glorifying God,” Aiken continued. “The rest of it, is… how should I say this? Horsefeathers!”

According to Gotham Public Library’s own mission statement, “People of all races, religions, and walks of life are encouraged to foster their love of reading inside these doors.” When reminded of this fact, Aiken remained defiant.

“To every season, turn, turn, and sometimes godliness demands hard choices,” he said. “We don’t need to fill our children’s heads with notions about smug, self-aggrandizing farm animals who carry on inner monologues.

“After all, there’s not a lot of talking critters in the Bible, except, of course, for the Serpent who talked to Adam—and we all know how that turned out!”

The pastor recently purchased a 10,000-square-foot home for his third wife, Candy, outside his Gotham mega-church using proceeds from Sunday services and sales from his ‘God is Love’ neon koozie line. He said it was his mission to ensure that all the books in the library’s collection were representative of the community’s religious values—and his own.

Aiken summarizes these as, “humility,” “fidelity,” and “temperance.”

“It takes place on Sunday afternoon, after services, and Candy and I hope you can make it,” Aiken added wryly. “Bring a dish to pass and some beverages for you and yours—we’ll supply the koozies.”  

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